Books

The Pit of Interesting

For the three summers between my eighth and tenth grade years, having taken the SAT in the seventh grade and scored high enough to qualify (I know, I know), I attended Duke University’s Talent Identification Program,…

To Invent Dinner: On Tofu of Kansas

There’s a poem halfway through Iris Moulton and Daniel Rolf’s Tofu of Kansas that opens with the line, “What else began as a small crusty bean and ended as something bigger softer and completely changed? Us.”…

Rachel Kushner, Nevada, and Spiritual America

1: Written on 3/22/13 before I left Los Angeles for Laughlin, Nevada, a place my friend Ian calls a “cluster of off-strip-style casinos on the Colorado River where few people are younger than forty.” Also written…

The Boon of Control: Leonid Tsypkin Unearthed

Leonid Tsypkin’s fiction reads like fan fiction for the greats of Russian literature. His novel, Summer in Baden-Baden (published in English by New Directions in 2001), fictionalizes Dostoyevsky and his wife’s summer stay in Germany. Instead…

The Cultural Genetics of César Aira

In his novel, The Literary Conference, the Argentinian author César Aira, via a narrator also named César Aira, cautions us against any interpretation of his work, saying, “The rest of the world has no inkling of…

Remembering the Funhouse

You probably know by now what a review of Tenth of December looks like: sugary veneration—nearly fealty—of a quote unquote master’s command of a genre. Part of what’s become unavoidable when talking about George Saunders’s new collection of…

Ooh, and That’s a Bad Miss

This is a review of Back Story, the new memoir by the neurotic British actor, comedian, Twitter personality, and Observer columnist David Mitchell. But first, let me tell you about myself. I was an especially unpopular…